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I don't know what to call this

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Chaivous

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I...had rather a bad few days again. It's not the first time I've been like this either. It's happening more frequently now. I don't want to call it an addiction here because it seems disrespectful to those with actual chemical dependency issues, but what else can I call it?

I kinda...binge on internet content, story forums and websites when I'm really anxious. It's a way to not exist for awhile, to disappear into myself and not think, or rather, to think about anything but me. The trouble is... I don't really stop. I can go like 16 hours barely stopping! Up until 4am or even until the sun rises at the worst. Hardly even getting myself to shower or even eat, that entire time. It can go on for days, after which when I finally start pulling my head out I need a day to recover from the crap I put myself through because I feel physically sick and shaky and teary and exhausted from it all. And I do it in the first place because I was anxious about something else to begin with. Like I'm trying to make myself feel better but I know it'll backfire but I do it anyway like I'm trying to punish myself for trying to run away or to give myself a physical pain bad enough to put the original mental one on the back burner. I couldn't go near meds or alcohol; if I got hooked on that I know I'd never come out again.
 
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2Much2Feel

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Hey, Chaivous, and sorry you're going thorough this. Like Purpleplum said, it sounds like an addiction. Criteria:

A person who is experiencing internet addiction may:

  • Exhibit a preoccupation with the internet, even when not using it
  • Use the internet more and more frequently
  • Be unable to stop or cut back on internet use (in spite of attempts to do so)
  • Feel moody, irritable, low, or restless as a result of attempts to cut back on Internet use
  • Use the internet to regulate mood or gain relief from the negative effects of problems
  • Risk losing employment, romantic relationships, friendships, or academic standing in order to spend more time online
  • Lose sleep, experience fatigue, feel apathetic
  • Lie to family members, friends, or mental health professionals about internet use or time spent online
Does this sound like you?
 
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Chaivous

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Some of it certainly does. It comes in fits and starts. I can go several weeks to a month without a binge, then something will set me off & away I go down the rabbit hole. i've tried to explain to few people (not family) but they really don't get it. It's the anxiety that's the root cause, the binging is a symptom.
 
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Purpleplum

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Some of it certainly does. It comes in fits and starts. I can go several weeks to a month without a binge, then something will set me off & away I go down the rabbit hole. i've tried to explain to few people (not family) but they really don't get it. It's the anxiety that's the root cause, the binging is a symptom.
So how about replacing the internet with taking a walk/run, doing a hobby you like, meditating/yoga or giving someone a call? These things can all help with anxiety as well.
 
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2Much2Feel

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So it's a coping mechanism for anxiety....I agree w Purpleplum, if you have the energy and have it in you, replacing it w something physical, esp outdoors, can let out the stress and uplift your mood. That said, I have yet to get exercising myself lately...
 
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Chaivous

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I...don't know. Part of the problem is that I live on a loud, bright, busy street, and there isn't much calming nature to lose myself in. No car (or license) so I can't drive to a park. I miss being surrounded by greenery like crazy! Other worry is it might leave my brain too much time to itself. I can't use my dishwasher, so whenever I have to do the dishes by hand, it's a battle to keep my nerves together because it's such a mindless task.
 
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2Much2Feel

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Crap. We all need an escape from the noise at times. I had to move from the city in part for that, just to get near nature again, as I was going nuts. Are you able to bus it anywhere (I know things now are even harder that way). Good at least that you know yourself well enough to know to stay away from substances. It's taught you one important thing.

I don't know what they do for internet addiction, and I hadn't heard about it until recently to be honest. It makes a lot of sense, of course. When you say you do it to not think about something that's making you anxious, what kinds of things typically are those that trigger it?
 
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Chaivous

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Rather a lot it seems like. A good chunk of the time it won't lead to binges but I'll still manage to screw up my sleeping and waste a lot of time. This time it was negligence on my part too. I was cramming over the course of a couple days to finish a project I was really behind on and let myself see the sites in snatched to keep me going, but of course once I was finished... The time before that I recognized--of course after--things had gotten spectacularly awful that it was heightened by certain monthly hormonal troubles. It's fits and starts.
 
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2Much2Feel

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I'm sorry. Can relate to the triggers coming from just about anything. So I'm guessing you haven't seen a therapist for this, as you are just now addressing that it's pretty serious? If I'm wrong, obviously, I don't mean to be, let me know. They are using DBT for addictions as well as CBT, both of which can be really helpful. I love DBT, but I have different issues. Still, it translates to a lot of life, is v practical, is evidence based. I hear a lot of people on the forum recommend watching YouTube videos on DBT to learn about it and learn some of the methods used. You can set up a call with a therapist that specialises in treating this particular addiction and just do a virtual one if that's easier? It sounds like it's causing you quite a bit of distress and this could be a start in the right direction to get out of this. Really hope you get some good advice soon. 👍
 
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Chaivous

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I've spoken to a therapist, but it was cognitive therapy only. Gave me dome helpful hints--there's a wellness chart I've adapted and still use--but I couldn't really talk about the roots of my problems so i stopped going. The internet thing is a symptom, not the root cause of things going sideways.

Mostly I wish I knew how to make my anxiety go away. I hate being afraid all the time. Like I'm too scared to be alive, but a hell of a lot more scared of dying. Of being judged, of...running out of time and being condemned for it.
 
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2Much2Feel

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I've spoken to a therapist, but it was cognitive therapy only. Gave me dome helpful hints--there's a wellness chart I've adapted and still use--but I couldn't really talk about the roots of my problems so i stopped going. The internet thing is a symptom, not the root cause of things going sideways.

Mostly I wish I knew how to make my anxiety go away. I hate being afraid all the time. Like I'm too scared to be alive, but a hell of a lot more scared of dying. Of being judged, of...running out of time and being condemned for it.
There I would def recommend looking into DBT therapy a bit. I'm just starting to work on my "chain" of thoughts and feelings that lead me to my less desirable outcomes/actions as well as my anxieties.
 
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tiltawhirl3

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I do this also. It is a coping mechanism for me. A symptom of the panic/anxiety, I use it to get out of my head which is a breeding ground for panic/anxiety. I keep snacks, cereals, hopefully healthy foods which require the least effort around so that I can eat while binging online. I am reducing caffeine. I do try to go to bed but if I only toss and turn, that is more frustrating. I have been thro a fight with drs to treat my anxiety. They just gave me a 2 wk supply of what I was demanding and the rapid improvement has been nearly miraculous. I still do have some symptoms but I try to use work arounds, making things gentle for myself. Panic disorder is deeply rooted in the fight or flight (or freeze!) part of the brain, the part that reacts before thinking can set in. I need basic medical treatment before I would be able to use thinking to work on it.
 
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tiltawhirl3

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I have been a member here for a long, long time but just had to reset my account.
 
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2Much2Feel

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I have been a member here for a long, long time but just had to reset my account.
Ah, I think I have to do the same, and starting from "scratch" is a whole chore in and of itself that I am not up to right now...Yes, panic attacks are awful, to put it mildly. I first started getting them when I was 14, before they knew what they were, and everyone just treated me like I was "crazy". At least now we can openly talk about it and know others go through it and there are some treatments out there. I will use the chain to deal w anxiety like you said, good idea and way to try to learn from it while keeping your mind from going there. :)
 
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